French Braid by Anne Tyler

French Braid

It’s always cause for celebration when Pulitzer-winning author, Anne Tyler, presents us with another novel. She knows families, she knows Baltimore, and she knows how to pen wonderful stories that quickly draw us in and keep us hostage. FRENCH BRAID does all that and more. Once again, Tyler sets her story in the Baltimore she knows so well and loves. She lives there. I have lived there. This is the real deal.

Families are messy. And the Garrett’s of Baltimore are no exception. Our story begins with the Garrett family finally deciding to take a vacation. It’s summer and they’re going to the lake. They almost never leave the city. At the time we don’t know that this will actually be the only vacation they ever take. Mercy, the mom, is preoccupied with making art, something she rarely gets to practice at home. She’s kept oh-so-busy taking care of her husband Robin and her three children. Robin is like a fish out of water but finds company with another dad and they spend most afternoons hanging out in the lake, talking shop. Alice is taking it all in her stride and spends most of the time with her little brother David. Lily who is boy crazy, promptly meets a “boy” and all but ignores her entire family all week long. And David who is afraid of water, creates his own world and tries hard to stay away from the lake.

As this family grows older and the children become adults, Mercy and Garrett grow apart. But stay together. Mercy spends more and more time a few streets away in her small studio where she blossoms and becomes her true self.

FRENCH BRAID is a quiet but complicated story that focuses on how seemingly small things that happen early in life can become huge hurdles later on. We wonder why David is so eager to leave the nest. Wonder if Lily will ever settle down. And wonder about Alice and how her future will turn out.

Toward the end of the novel you encounter a shock. I didn’t see it coming. This family felt like people I’ve known forever. I miss them already. Tyler has done it again. Bravo.

Anne Tyler Won The Pulitzer for her novel, BREATHING LESSONS in 1988. She’s written more than twenty novels. I’ve read them all. She’s a favorite. A real classic.

I read my review copy of FRENCH BRAID digitally through Netgalley and Knopf in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely loved it and can’t recommend it enough!

2 thoughts on “French Braid by Anne Tyler

  1. Good news! I welcome a new book from Anne Tyler too, like you , I enjoy her work and will get my request in with the Naples Library today.
    We are so fortunate here in Collier County to have an outstanding library !

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